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Users do not (want to) use your CRM - why, and what you can do about it?

Solving the user adoption problem with CRM - before it happens

Up to 85% of CRM projects are deemed to have failed, and when we drill into the reasons for the perceived failure, it is often one of three reasons:

  • Users do not use the solution
  • Users are still following complex, time consuming processing to get to the data and reports that they need
  • The reports do not give the complete information – which is often because the users are not using the solution.


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So why is there this failure in user adoption?  Why don’t users use the system?

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When we drill into the reasons that users are not using the CRM solution, we find three common reasons:

  • They cannot see the reason for switching to the new solution
  • They can see the value, but do not know how to use the new system
  • Using the new system takes too long

Users do not see any reason for switching

When we discuss this with the users, the feedback is usually that their previous way of working works just fine. To make a change, users must see value to them. This is commonly because:

  • The value to the users has not been demonstrated to those users
  • There is no value to the users
  • Users do not know how to use the new system

This happens either when end user training was omitted, or was poorly delivered.



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There are some common mistakes made with training – assuming that it happens at all:

  • Training is delivered too early in the project, which means that it is delivered on a version of the solution which is incomplete and buggy, or by the time go live happens it is forgotten
  • Training is delivered by someone who is not a trainer, and therefore is not skilled in helping people learn and understand the reasons why
  • The training delivered does not match the processes that the users are expected to follow when they return to work so they cannot link the training to their everyday working life, and therefore cannot use the solution to do their jobs.

When any of the above occur, although training is deemed to have happened, it has not really happened – effective training has only happened when it changes behaviour. This is the difference between tick-box training and real training.

End user training for any solution such as CRM, if it is to be effective, must:

  • match the processes that the users will use
  • user data similar to the data that the users will use
  • emphasise the reasons, or the ‘why’ that the process is being introduced and why each step is necessary

End user training cannot be standard - off the shelf - delivered to multiple organisations.

Using the system takes too long

When we drill into complaints that the new system takes too long, we find two outcomes:

  • The process really is longer than the previous way of working
  • The process feels longer, perhaps because it is not familiar

We must differentiate between a real and perceived time increase.

When the process is longer than previously, is there a good reason for the increase in time – a reason that delivers benefit to overall organisation, perhaps even to this user albeit not now? If this is true, with some broader education, the users will probably accept the time increase.

If there is no good reason for the increase in time, a way must be found to reduce the time – perhaps with automation – making the system do something that the users are now doing, or hardware improvement or by rationalising the process – perhaps reducing data entry, either removing fields completely, or moving to pick lists rather than text fields, or simplifying forms.

When the process only feels longer than previously, even though it is not actually any longer, it is usually a lack of familiarity with the new process and so users should be encouraged to give it time. Once they have reached the same level of familiarity with the new process that they had with their previous process, the problem will go away.

The effects of poor user adoption

Poor user adoption of a solution such as CRM will cost money – and that is money in addition to the money already invested in the solution. Some of this wasted money is direct in time spent by users, some of it is the effects of reduced user morale, which may lead to staff churn, and some of it will be rectifying the problem.

So to solve the CRM user adoption problem - before it happens:

  • Ensure that your project includes proper scoping where the processes are mapped and reviewed; this scoping should include a review of outputs and it should confirm that every process and step of those processes is required to serve your customers or for reporting within the business.
  • Make sure that user data is migrated, so it does not have to be rekeyed - rekeying of data wastes time, frustrates users and sends them quickly back to their previous system.
  • Include thorough education – awareness raising throughout the project and effective end-user training

If you already have a problem of poor user adoption, my advice is:

  • Conduct a Healthcheck of your CRM to see what is working well and what is not working
  • Review and revise any troublesome processes
  • Provide training to increase confidence in the system.


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Published by Gill Walker


Who is Gill Walker?

Gill Walker is many things:

  • She is an author who loves spreading knowledge of CRM and specifically Microsoft Dynamics 365 via articles such as this;
  • She is an expert consultant who has been helping her clients with their Microsoft Dynamics 365 (and previously Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Microsoft CRM) challenges since 2002;
  • She is a professional trainer who shares her wide knowledge of Microsoft Dynamics 365 with her training delegates – so they can implement and manage their Microsoft Dynamics 365 more easily and effectively;
  • She is a speaker who shares her knowledge of varied CRM topics with her audiences;
  • She is a troubleshooter – who helps organisations with their sticky problems.

Please feel free to contact her via linked in (https://www.linkedin.com/in/crmconsultant/) or email (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).


Opsis is an expert Microsoft Dynamics 365 consulting company. Our focus is your Microsoft Dynamics 365 success - not licence sales or billable hours. As Principal Consultant, Gill oversees all business operations and strategic planning and execution, yet she still believes in offering personal attention to each and every client, so as to understand their needs and offer tailored solutions.  We are based in Sydney, with clients in Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Brisbane and across Australia.  We offer Microsoft Dynamics 365 strategy, Microsoft Dynamics 365 scoping, Microsoft Dynamics 365 implementation, Microsoft Dynamics 365 technical support, Microsoft Dynamics 365 advice and guidance, Microsoft Dynamics 365 training and mentoring.